Jul Love Christmas in the Danish Capital
When living in Denmark. I say. Bring on Christmas.
It’s mid-November now. The clock has turned back and the dark descends earlier each evening. By Christmas, we’ll be down to a mere seven hours of daylight per day here in Denmark. No need to fret. Don’t be concerned. Bust out your candles. Turn on those twinkly lights. Let’s get our Jul on. It’s one of the things I adore most about living here in Denmark. And many Copenhagen Christmas activities kick off for real this weekend when Julemanden, Denmark’s version of Santa, switches on all the lights swung over the streets in the historic center city.
(Originally posted November 2016, updated November 2019)
How to celebrate this beautiful and hyggelige* Jul season when here in the capital? There are so many things to do, but these are few of my favorites. Without further ado, here are 10 ways to help you make the most of your Christmas in Copenhagen:
Top 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Copenhagen Christmas
1 | Celebrate the Lights
Copenhagen’s center town is a twisty cobble of charming old streets and colorful buildings. And while grey and potentially dreary this time of year, once strung with swaths of greenery and lights so twinkly, even you might not notice the chill at your cheek. Come Saturday, November 16th singers and sausages and yes, Julemanden too, will be on hand to get you ready to start the holidays. Let the lights illuminate the city I say.
Of course, if you miss this event, you can witness the wonder any day throughout the season. My most favorite lane to linger under the lights is probably Kronprinsensgade off Købmagergade, not far from Amagertorv – so sparkly and special.
Copenhagen Christmas Opening Event
Saturday 16 November 2019 | 14:00-16:30
Amagertorv/Strøget, København K
14.00 | Memorial Anchor at Nyhavn | Santa and his elves start the parade off in a horse-drawn carriage where they will move past Kongens Nytorv in front of Hotel D’Angleterre and end at City Hall Square between 14.30 to 15.00.
15.30 | Amagertorv Stork Fountain you’ll find Denmark’s bear friend Rasmus Klump and the seasonal tunes of the Postman’s Orchestra
13.59 | Countdown to Santa turning on the lights
NOTE: Event may be cancelled if it is raining. Check the link above to confirm.
Help us awaken the true Christmas spirit on the 16th November at 4 pm, as we celebrate the switch on of our annual Christmas decorations in the centre of Copenhagen.”
– Copenhagen Christmas
2 | Visit a Julemarked | Christmas Markets in Copenhagen
Already starting, Julemarked will pop up on nearly every corner and in every church. And while Copenhagen’s major Christmas markets have a certain kitsch charm, don’t limit yourself to their standard Jule fare. In this city known for design, seek out a design or kunstmarked – an art market. I prefer these unique and special markets full of local artists, creators and makers selling their one of kind art and design market. Click on the link below to check out where to find Copenhagen best little Christmas Markets this year.
READ MORE: COPENHAGEN’S BEST LITTLE CHRISTMAS MARKETS
3 | Try the Gløgg | Scandinavia’s Warm Christmas in a Cup
Gløgg is Denmark’s version of warm spiced mulled wine. Scandis like it a bit sweeter and always serve it with dried fruit, usually raisins and sliced almonds at the bottom of your cup. You’ll find it offered everywhere come Juletime in Copenhagen. But some are better than others, of course. For the fanciest cup o’ gløgg, head to the elegant and festive Hotel D’Angleterre near the newly reopened Kongens Nytorv. And while maybe an overnight stay isn’t in your Christmas budget – ogling their lights and annual holiday facade is a must do when in Copenhagen. Make it a special afternoon out and step inside for their famous white gløgg and marzipan snowballs by the fire. Hotel D’Angleterre fashions theirs with white wine and apricots. A super swanky Christmas treat.
For extra special seasonal pomp and circumstance – find a place to see the official unveiling of Hotel D’Angleterre’s 2019 facade in a ceremony on Friday 22 November. Enjoy the sounds of the Royal Lifeguard’s band as the perform tunes for visitors while they wait.
Unveiling of the Hotel’s Holiday Facade
Friday 22 November 2019 | 16.45 – 17:15
Kongens Nytorv, København K
Discover the City’s Best Gløgg
Want to try the city’s best gløgg? The wonderful food market Torvehallerne hosts an annual competition to taste the top tipples which happens this coming Sunday the 17th of November. Last year they awarded wine and spirit purveyor, Noorbohandelen the title. Of course, I had to try.
So I convinced fellow blogger and Copenhagen ex-local Carolyn Eddie to come with me. We got the inside scoop on what made it a winner last year. First, they infuse vodka, rum and calvados with a secret spice mixture (we guessed cinnamon, cloves and ginger) in casks for two years. Then they take a juicy Tempranillo red wine and blend with the mulled spirits and top off with some white port. This gløgg is spicy and strong and a 45DKK per glass, probably the best deal in Denmark. Who will take home the top glass this year?
Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København
City’s Best Gløgg Competition at Torvehallerne
Sunday 17 December 2019 | 12.00 – 15.00
4 | See the Tree Lighting at City Hall
A tradition dating back to 1914, every year on the first Sunday of Advent, Julemanden (Santa) parades through the city with the historic Copenhagen Fire Brigade starting at Nyhavn Canal. Around 15:40 he returns to the Råhuspladsen, City Hall, where he will be met by the mayor. Speeches will be made, songs will be sung, Santa and his Nisse will greet the visitors. Then, in a grand fashion, he will turn on the nearly 20-meter spruce tree, lit with 800 LED lights and 100 Christmas hearts.
Tree Lighting at City Hall
1st Sunday of Advent | 1 December 2019
City Hall Square, 1599 København K
5 | Cruise the Canals by Kayak for Saint Lucia Day
The traditional Swedish Santa Lucia parade with candles takes on a Copenhagen twist as kayaks all alit paddle through the canals on Lucia Day. To participate, you must have our own vessel. To rent one from Kayak Republic – you need to show proof of EPP2 level training. Not ready to get out on the water? Watch safely from shore. We love watching them glide through the classic backdrop of the Christmas market on Nyhavn Canal.
6 | Listen to Christmas Carols by a Choir
Something about carols being sung by a choir that always seems to help set the mood. Seeing them in a historic Danish church decked out for the season? Even better.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Holiday Concert
Saturday 7 December 2019 | 19:00
The Suoni Chorus, Suoni Ensemble and Copenhagen International Children’s Choir
Skt Jakobs Kirke
Østerbrogade 59, 2100 Copenhagen Ø
A musical celebration of christmas favourites, both old and new. The Concert features pieces that are arranged and written by composer Siobhan Lamb and performances from The Suoni Ensemble, The Suoni Chorus and The Copenhagen International Children’s Choirs. “
The Copenhagen Boys Choir perform Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in the beautiful Københavns Domkirken with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra.
Friday 20 December 2019 | 19:30
Copenhagen Drengekor | Boys Choir
Københavns Domkirken (Vor Frue Kirke)
Nørregade 8, 1165 København
7 | Get Inspiration at Royal Copenhagen’s Christmas Tables
Stroll down Copenhagen’s pedestrian walking street known as the Strøget for simply stunning light displays and serious shopping. Pop into the flagship store of Royal Copenhagen china and head upstairs to see this year’s inspiring Christmas table displays. Celebrating the 56th year of the iconic Christmas tables, you’ll find this year’s theme which is sure to offer some quirky, some elegant and some artful ideas for your holiday table.
8 | Dance Into Nødderknækkeren | The Nutcracker
This is a tradition near and dear to my heart, having danced in the Nutcracker for seven years of my youth. Depending on the year, you can see it performed here in Copenhagen either with the Royal Danish Ballet or at the Tivoli Ballet who take turns hosting every other year. Either place is magical, but I’m a big fan of seeing performances in Det Gamle Scene, the “old stage” of the Royal Theater right at Kongens Nytorv. For years that Tivoli hosts, you can experience the costumes and sets designed by Queen Margrethe herself. Instead, step into Hans Christian Andersen’s wintery wonderland with the Snow Queen on stage at the Tivoli Concert Hall this season.
30 November – 22 December 2019
The Royal Danish Ballet
Det Kongelige Teater
Kongens Nytorv 9, 1017 København K
Snedronningen | The Snow Queen
1 December to 22 December 2019
Tivoli Concert Hall
Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V
There is no Christmas without the Nutcracker, and it’s great to contribute to Tivoli’s Christmas atmosphere with a Christmas show, even Tivoli in 1874 as a frame. The Christmas Eve of the Nutcracker is one of my absolute favorites; a true classic, embracing adventure and magic for children and their families. With the Queen’s eye for the little extra detail in scenography and costume, the audience is waiting for a world to discover. ” – Tivoli Ballet
9 | Go Ice Skating at the Frederiksberg Runddel
Maybe the Lakes will freeze enough this year to be able to skate upon, but until then – you can glide on the rink that sits outside the Frederiksberg Castle Garden. Don’t own skates? No problem. You can rent a pair or a penguin! 50dkk per 30 minutes.
NOTE: You will need to leave your CPR card or 500dkk as deposit.
Frederiskberg Ice Rink
26th November to 28th February
Frederiksberg Runddel 1, 1621 København V
10 | Juletide (Yuletime) at Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park
A Copenhagen Christmas is not complete with a visit to Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park. Tivoli is all kinds of wonderful in every season, but it shines at Christmas. Even if you aren’t tempted by rides, you’ll want to come for the lights. Tivoli wears Christmas well and drips with charm. I adore the Julemarked, not to be missed.
Will you be in Copenhagen ON Christmas with nothing to do? Tivoli is open and will light up the sky with the 25th annual Fireworks Festival from December 25th – 26th at 20:45 and the 27th at 23:00 at night. Grab a warm mug of gløgg and enjoy the fantastisk display. Missed the Christmas show? One more chance to see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve at 23:00.
Tivoli Gardens Christmas Season
16 November 2019 – 5 January 2020
Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V
NOTE: Because Danes celebrate Christmas on the 24th – the park hours are limited from 11:00-16:00.
When darkness falls over the Gardens you can enjoy the evocative Lucia Parade, which passes through the Gardens at 17:30 on Tuesday 13 December.
Tivoli has a long tradition of candles in the Gardens, and the Lucia Parade complements our tradition beautifully. The choir is made up of a hundred girls.
The parade starts and finishes at Castle Square next to the Tivoli Castle, giving Tivoli’s visitors a chance to enjoy the beautiful Santa Lucia song and other atmospheric Christmas tunes.”
– Tivoli Gardens
Are you lucky enough to stay through New Years Eve? I think Copenhagen has one of the best New Year’s celebrations in the world. And I’ve seen a few! The holiday season is seriously spectacular here in Denmark. Cheers from Copenhagen this Christmas season. – Erin
Lots more on the blog all about Christmas in Denmark:
hyggelige* = full of hygge, that untranslatable Danish word for a sense of cozy contentment.